Andrea Dovizioso felt he lost a front row start when he fell during the closing minutes of a wet MotoGP qualifying at Sepang.

Nonetheless, the Ducati star feels he is one of three - or possibly five - riders with the dry pace to fight for victory in Sunday's Malaysian race.

"I have a good feeling in the dry," Dovizioso said. "Today Maverick and Marc improved a little bit in their speed so I think we are very, very similar.

"I think we are the three riders with a similar pace and we are able to fight for the victory.

"Valentino is fast and Zarco improved in the afternoon also, so they have a chance to stay in the group also.

"My goal is to win the race, but I want to think about the championship and if I can close second position here I would prefer that.

"So I will race to win, but also I want to look at Maverick and Valentino."

Dovizioso starts the penultimate round 15 points clear of Valentino Rossi and 30 ahead of the other Movistar Yamaha of Maverick Vinales in the fight for title runner-up behind Marc Marquez.

The #4 was fighting for 'best of the rest' in qualifying behind the Repsol Honda rider when he lost control of his GP18 (pictured).

Second place instead went to Johann Zarco, who will now start on pole position following the grid penalty for Marquez. Dovizioso had to settle for fifth in qualifying, meaning he will now line-up at the head of the second row.

"I was a bit too fast but the reason why [I fell] is the front tyre is very hard," Dovizioso explained. "On straight braking we are able to brake very strong, but on the lean angle nobody has a lot of grip.

"Everybody has to manage that and it was very difficult as you don’t have a lot of feedback. So I did a small mistake, but in that situation I was able to make the minimum second position.

"When you have 15 minutes it is difficult to have the perfect feeling in the wet, but the feeling was good and I am happy if we have to race in the wet tomorrow."

Dovizioso won last year's race in wet conditions, but the chances of a dry 2018 grand prix have increased after Sunday's race was moved two hours earlier to avoid the afternoon storms that tormented qualifying.

"It is better to race early as the rain starts after lunch. You never know at what time but normally later is worse," Dovizioso said.

"Sometimes it is possible to change, sometimes not. For Europe [live TV viewers] it is worse to race at that time, we know, we don’t have to ask just about the racing as we also have to follow the TV.

"So we are trying to speak in a mature way [about keeping the earlier start time for future flyaway rounds]."